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A Life Worth Living

By Wednesday, June 29, 2016 Permalink

Herding the Sheep Down the Mountain in Villars-sur-Ollon

by Jonell Galloway

A tapestry-covered armchair worn thin from hours of sitting book in hand; a rickety wooden table with chipped red paint that matched your first kitchen; a yellow cat, plump with age, sits in your lap, All the Pretty Horses balanced over its head so you can continue reading: these are the things that make up a life worth living, not frantically running in your Jimmy Choo high heels to catch an airplane and dining in restaurants with spotless white tablecloths and silver so shiny you see a reflection of your red lipstick in it. Unfeigned life is simple joys: counting your babies’ toes after they come out of the womb, or feeling warm tears of love when you walk up the mountain behind your dearlings, or listening to cowbells and watching the shepherds drive their flocks over the pass and down, or discovering the first gentle rosebud of the year. It’s when your mother takes your hand and squeezes it with every ounce of energy she has left, no words necessary. It’s when you serve breakfast in bed to your husband, with a kiss thrown in. You’ll never forget that kiss, how his dark eyes, weak and tired, looked tenderly into yours, saying everything you ever needed to know. But even more, much more, the time he hired the little boy down the street to deliver a single red rose to you on your birthday because he didn’t have enough money to pay for a dozen roses to be delivered. That was the most special rose ever. When it’s all over, these moments will have been your life, transparent and whole: The roses at the weddings and baptisms and communions and bar mitzvahs and funerals, the red and the yellow and the pink, the rosebuds and the dried blooms and the fresh, all come together to form mountains and valleys of flowers that make a life worth living.

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Venetian Hours: Walking

By Monday, June 27, 2016 Permalink

by Jonell Galloway

Walking is an intimate act. I walk, and then walk some more, wherever I am, never knowing when to stop. Walking across Geneva, running into friends, they think it’s some feat, but it’s not; it’s a very natural way of getting around, better than any gym, rather like making love. I sweat and my heart beats and it’s cardio without ever changing from my city slicker clothes. It’s the best way to get to know a city. Façades lean toward you as if they’d fall down any minute and caress you, carved wooden doors beg for paint, sunlit vitrines are dressed for affluent Swiss “residents” as the eyes of passersby catch yours and you share a laugh at an incident startling to the sometimes overly civilized Swiss. French drivers roll down their windows and yell the worst words they can find to each other, then merrily continue on their way as they run the red light. Bus drivers curse under their breath and teenagers talk too loud just to make sure everyone knows they are alive. The city is animated, not blocked or filtered by tinted bus and car windows, not drowned out by loud music on a car radio. Engines roar and horns blow and you and the city are one; you share a common chaos and make do with it, knowing that you are living in a very comfortable, silky-smooth world and shouldn’t complain.

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Kentucky Food: Barry King’s Angel Biscuits

By Monday, June 27, 2016 Permalink

onlinepastrychef via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

 

Angel biscuits are eaten at special Kentucky meals such as Christmas, Thanksgiving and Derby.

2 pkg. active dry yeast (don’t use quick-rise yeast)
1/2 tsp. sugar
8 Tbsp. warm water

5 cups all-purpose flour (I use White Lily)
1 tsp. baking soda
3 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 cup Crisco (solid) or other vegetable shortening or lard, well-chilled
2 cups cold buttermilk
Butter, melted

Yield: 60 small cocktail size biscuits or about 2-dozen large.

NOTE: Angel biscuits can be made and baked immediately, but I like to make the them 12-24 hours in advance, so that the biscuits have time to rest and ferment a bit before baking — it adds a special quality to the flavor.

angel biscuits and country ham, Kentucky Derby Southern food, recipe by Barry King

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  1. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast and sugar in warm water, and let it rest until mixture begins to foam.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, sift flour with remaining dry ingredients. Cut in shortening with a pastry blender until mixture resembles coarse meal.
  3. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture; add buttermilk and yeast mixture to the flour and stir with a large spoon until a soft fluffy dough just comes together.
  4. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured board and knead/fold a couple of times. Pat out dough to flatten.
  5. Using a rolling pin, roll dough out until it is at least 1/2-inch inch thickness.
  6. Using a biscuit cutter (small for cocktail sandwiches, or larger to accompany a meal), cut dough into individual biscuits and place on a greased cookie sheet.
  7. Brush lightly with melted butter, cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator.
  8. About an hour before baking: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.
  9. Remove biscuits from the refrigerator and allow to proof at room temperature in a warm kitchen — the biscuits should start to rise and be soft/pillowy to the touch.
  10. Place biscuits on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.
  11. When done, the biscuits will be 1 1/2 to 2 inches in height.
  12. Brush lightly with melted butter.
  13.  They are perfect for brunch or filled with sliced Kentucky country ham with cocktails.
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Unleavened Bread for Passover

By Wednesday, April 13, 2016 Permalink

Unleavened Bread for Passover

by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, translated from the French by Jonell Galloway

Ahava is sitting in the middle of the courtyard, a large terra cotta dish in front of her. She is displaying her riches: freshly ground flour in an earthenware jar with a handle and an amphora containing spring water, a bowl half-full to dip her hands into: the simplest of accoutrements. Across from her, Malka, a child with a sharp, somewhat pinched nose, gossamer skin, and long fingers that turn inwards; Ahava is teaching her 10-year-old granddaughter the art of bread making. Unleavened bread, flat bread, bread for survival. Malka is now of the age to learn to make matzo to be shared at this evening’s Passover seder, the ritual meal marking the start of Pesach. The movements, the setting, are timeless. “An encounter, a meeting,” explains Ahava. “Pesach starts with the union of flour and spring water in an earthenware bowl.” The jar is deep. She has to dig down into its very depths to get the flour. She plunges her hand in, then her forearm, then, slowly, her whole arm, as if she had to give her whole self to it, finally drawing her arm out of its depths and back into the daylight. Her hand, cupped to hold the immaculate white powder, now opens. Though her fingers are closed together, flour disperses into the air like rain caught by a gush of wind, scattering, causing a flood of silence. “On its journey from grain to powdery substance,” says Ahava, her hand still taut and cupped, but open, “the flour has never encountered water.” “It’s never touched water?” Malka says with surprise in her voice. “Never,” replies Ahava.

Translated from Ayzme, by Jean-Philippe de Tonnac, published by Actes Sud, 2016.

 

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What to Eat in France: Lapin au Miel et à la Moutarde

By Friday, August 7, 2015 Permalink

What to Eat in France: Lapin au Miel et à la Moutarde, or Honey Mustard Rabbit

by Jonell Galloway

In the Orléanais and Beauce regions around where I live in Chartres, rabbit is king. They raise them and hunt them as well, eating hare during hunting season. They make distinctions depending on the age and kind of rabbit.

Historically, the French have had a preference for lièvre or hare or lapin de garenne or wild rabbit. Gastronomes like Prosper Montagné considered the flesh of domestic rabbits tasteless and in need of heavy seasoning.

In the late eighteenth century, poor Parisians consumed rabbits regularly. They fed them cabbage leaves and kept the rabbit hutches by their beds.

Domestic rabbit must be eaten young — at 3 to 3 1/2 months old — and is called lapin, while young wild rabbit is called lapereau. Domestic rabbit has white, tender flesh, while the young hares produce firmer meat of which the flavor has more character. It can, however, taste musty. It’s best to check for mustiness before cooking because it can sometimes render it inedible.

Today, the most common recipe is for Lapin à la Moutarde, or rabbit with mustard. This recipe can in fact be made with both honey and/or mustard, giving a classic honey mustard taste to the flesh.

miel_gatinais

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The region has been known for its honey, Miel du Gâtinais, since the Middle Ages, and is a blend of acacia, heather, chestnut and forest honey.

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Lists of Food Writers

By Wednesday, August 5, 2015 Permalink

Lists of Food Writers

Historical Food Writers

Archestratus

Apicius

J.A. Brillat-Savarin

Grimod de La Reyniere

Carême

Artusi

Escoffier

Historians of Food and Foodways

Rachel Laudan

Lizzie Collingham

Alan Davidson

Claudia Roden

Margaret Visser

Carolin C. Young

Michael J. Twitty

Waverley Root

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Food Bloggers

By Saturday, August 1, 2015 Permalink

Publishing at TRE for Food Bloggers

At TRE, we do not consider blogging as different from writing. We think it is writing, in one of the forms writing can take.

Food blogging is one of the best ways to start food writing, however, and you can hone your skills as you go. You don’t have to be a writer with a deep background to start a blog. Your blog can serve as your developmental playground, while your writing grows in depth, authority, and readerly interest. Many bloggers have a goal of eventually publishing their work in print journals, on high profile sites, as print books, or as ebooks.

The Rambling Epicure platform showcases all types of food writing. We regularly publish outstanding writing from food bloggers. If you have a spectacular food blog post that you want still more people to see, feel free to send it our way.

Meanwhile, join our community. Our newsletter will come to you monthly, and every now and then you’ll get a tasty food quote.

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Food Blogging 101: 10 Steps for Starting a Blog

By Monday, May 25, 2015 Permalink
Foxtongue / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

How to Start a Food Blog: 10 Tips from a Veteran Blogger

by Jonell Galloway

Here are 10 easy steps to follow to start a food (or other) blog. Food blogging can be easy if you start out right.

  1. Keep it simple at every step, because it won’t end up being simple no matter how hard you try to make it so.
  2. Decide on your niche and your subject. Your subject should be specific and something you know about and feel comfortable writing about. If you’ve worked at a French bakery, perhaps you know a lot about baking French pastries. For example, I studied French cuisine, so I mainly write about French cuisine. It comes easy to me; it’s within my range of knowledge. If you want your readers to be passionate, you have to be passionate yourself. If you want them to build confidence in you, you have to write with authority.
  3. Who is your audience? Are there enough people interested in your subject to justify all the hard work? Do you have an idea of who these people might be? Go on Amazon and see how many books are published on your subject. Do a few Internet searches to see if anyone else is covering the same topic.
  4. Define a budget. Can you afford a developer? a webmaster? I recommend both, but if you’re computer literate, it’s possible to build a website on your own.
  5. Choose a platform. The platform you choose has a lot to do with how computer literate you are. This is not a judgment. It’s just a factor that can determine how much unnecessary frustration you risk experiencing while running your blog. If you have limited experience using computers and you want a simple, carefree site, Tumblr, Typepad and Blogger are good choices. Another advantage is that they are free, but they have their limitations. If you know Microsoft Word, know how to use a stylesheet, and feel comfortable with computers, WordPress offers more flexibility in terms of layout and functionality. It is also free. None of these platforms requires knowledge of computer coding. Wix and Medium are also free, but have limitations. None of these platforms requires knowledge of code, with the exception of a few of the cutting-edge WordPress themes. (If you don’t know code, this is a question you should ask when choosing a theme.)
  6. If you have a hefty budget, you can make life easier by hiring a website developer and a webmaster, so you wouldn’t need the free platforms. A developer can custom build a site in code to your specifications, giving you the possibility of a beautiful, unique look, but making it necessary to have a webmaster or the developer make changes and additions, which can be costly. Think this over before starting. It will not be a one-time expense; it will be an on-going one.
  7. If you’re building a website on a free platform, choose a theme. A theme is what you will use as the basic layout or presentation of your site (a paid web developer would do all this in code). It is what you use when you don’t have a budget for a coded website and you plan to use the free platforms. Free or low-budget themes are available for all the free platforms listed above, and allow you to browse examples before choosing. Wordpress offers free themes here.
  8. Choose a host. The “host” is the place where your website resides. They will offer various packages at various prices. The host provides a server on which to store your blog files, as well as other necessary technical services including technical support (ask for details about this before choosing: how much time, availability, etc.), email, domain name registration, FTP access, and various other services and tools. They will offer different bandwidths (250 GB is usually the least) and disk space (5 GB is usually a minimum). How much you need depends on how many images and articles you post, of course, but a basic package usually suffices at the outset. You can always upgrade later. Ask what their average uptime and downtime are; this is what determines part of the reliability of your website. Ask how often your blog will be backed up on their servers.
  9. Choose a name and register it as a domain name (your host may offer this service). Otherwise, you can do this directly with the free online platforms or with an online domain registration company. This reserves the name for you and you only and prevents anyone else from using it.
  10. Take a few hours to familiarize yourself with the technical aspects of creating blog posts. If you’re using WordPress, do some research on the plugins you can use to enhance site capability. The Beginner’s Guide for WordPress is an excellent resource.
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WHAT TO EAT IN FRANCE: WHITE ASPARAGUS LABEL

By Sunday, May 24, 2015 Permalink

Vintage French Label for White Asparagus

by Jonell Galloway

Traditionally, the French eat white asparagus. It is only recently that they have acquired a taste for the green asparagus that comes from Spain and occasionally Italy. White asparagus is grown underground so that the chlorophyll so it won’t turn green.

This label dates from the fifties, and says “asparagus in stems” (I wonder how else asparagus can be), and categorizes them as “extra fat,” which the French consider the best. This particular brand is from Belgium.

Modern labels are similar.

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“EATING IS AN AGRICULTURAL ACT: I begin with the proposition that eating is an agricultural act. Eating ends the annual drama of the food economy that begins with planting and birth. Most eaters, however, are no longer aware that this is true. They think of food as an agricultural product, perhaps, but they do not think of themselves as participants in agriculture. They think of themselves as ‘consumers.’ If they think beyond that, they recognize that they are passive consumers. They buy what they want — or what they have been persuaded to want — within the limits of what they can get. They pay, mostly without protest, what they are charged. And they mostly ignore certain critical questions about the quality and the cost of what they are sold: How fresh is it? How pure or clean is it, how free of dangerous chemicals? How far was it transported, and what did transportation add to the cost? How much did manufacturing or packaging or advertising add to the cost? When the food product has been manufactured or ‘processed’ or ‘precooked,’ how has that affected its quality or price or nutritional value?”

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— Wendell Berry, The Pleasures of Eating

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